Friday, 6 September 2013

Communication, Collaboration and Serendipity

Sometimes a conversation with one person about one subject will lead to the discovery of a whole new source of information about a totally different subject. That happened to me recently.

When I was looking at starting this blog, I consulted James Tanner, author of Genealogy’s Star, one of the foremost genealogy blogs. He let me know that he was going to be giving a live webinar on blogging for the MesaFamilySearch Library and that I might get some ideas by tuning in.

Following up on his message, I went on to the Mesa FamilySearch Centre webinar site to find out more about the presentations and had many more planned or already available to view from passed presentations. In their list of webcasts, I found two given by Steve Packer earlier this year on German Ancestors. Since I have a 2nd great-grandfather who was born in Germany, and about whom we have found very little, I decided to spend some time watching both webcasts. Steve is a great speaker, by the way, and very knowledgeable about German research.

Anyway, in the course of his presentation he gave several examples of how and where to search for information, particularly on the FamilySearch website. I confess that, even though I have used the site often over the years, his particular tricks, and information about the updated library, led me to very valuable data I might not have seen. I followed his directions and was able to find several entries in German birth and marriage records for a friend’s family that I have been researching for several months. Not everything is there, of course, but enough to confirm some names and dates we had, and give me a few more names and dates, which I will now be able to pass along to my friend. It will also allow me to contact the pertinent archives office in Germany to request specific information and extend the research even further.

As a result of watching the videos, I now have many more ideas for searching for my own ancestor, who arrived in the US from Germany in the early 1800s. Hopefully I’ll have some equally-good fortune in finding information about him as I did for my friend’s ancestors.

It is funny how one unrelated question posed to one person leads to interesting and valuable information from a previously unknown source!

The lessons: don’t stop looking for alternate resources; go back to FamilySearch from time-to-time and see what’s new or what advice they may have added; read lots about what other genealogists are doing, such as in other blogs; and don’t be afraid to contact any of those genealogists.

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